Fulton County, GA – Fired from the Atlanta Police Department for gunning down an innocent driver, a former cop was indicted on multiple charges including murder, making a false statement, and violating his oath of office. Although the ex-cop reported that the driver was attempting to run him over when he opened fire, investigators determined his claims were false after reviewing dashcam footage and witness statements.
After fighting for years to make the video from that night public, the family of 22-year-old Deravis Caine Rogers has released new video from the night of that fatal shooting, renewing calls for action from the city.
As 11 Alive reports, Rogers’ parents and their attorneys made the video public during a Tuesday morning news conference on Zoom – which they said they fought hard to obtain and share.
“It is hard to watch it because you start to wonder when will it end,” said Roger’s father, Deravis Thomas.
Shortly before midnight on June 22, 2016, Officer James Burns responded to a call from an off-duty cop reporting a suspicious person breaking into cars. Arriving at the scene in his patrol car, Burns hit his lights and siren immediately after seeing a 2011 Ford Fusion driving towards him.
Burns suddenly exited his vehicle and fired a single bullet into the head of Rogers. According to Burns, Rogers ignored his order to “Stop!” before gunning his engine and attempting to run him down with the sedan. Blinded by the headlights and fearing for his life, Burns claimed that he killed Rogers in self-defense.
“He clearly made a decision to run me over, you know, and kill me,” Burns told investigators. “And I’m thinking about, you know, I gotta protect myself.”
But the new video shows that Rogers likely had no idea he was even a suspect. Rogers had been driving toward Burns’ passenger side and made no attempt to harm the officer. Rogers was actually driving away from Burns when the officer shot him through the side of his Fusion.
“What happened was James Burns made assumptions as Mr. Rogers was driving away that he was involved in something that the evidence strongly suggests he wasn’t,” said Shean Williams, co-council for the family.
“Burns was indicted two months after the incident in 2016. He was reindicted in 2018 to fix a procedural matter,” according to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.
An internal affairs investigation found that Burns had no reason to suspect Rogers of criminal activity before using unnecessary and unreasonable force. After Burns was fired from the department in July, APD Sgt. Warren Pickard admitted that no evidence existed of any cars that were burglarized or stolen that night anywhere near the vicinity.
“The officer simply acted in a way that we cannot support,” Sgt. Pickard told 11 Alive News. “He had no idea who was in the vehicle. He had no idea if that was the vehicle he should be concerned with. He just discharged his weapon.”
Though Burns was indicted — twice — his family has yet to see justice in the form of a conviction much less a trial date.
“Rogers parents, Melva Rogers and Deravis Thomas, are appreciative that Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance-Bottoms and the city of Atlanta have highlighted the death of Rayshard Brooks and the tasing of two HBCU students, but they wonder why the mayor or city has done nothing regarding their son’s killing at the hands of APD officer James Burns,” family attorneys with the Cochran Firm noted in a statement.
“The city has yet to acknowledge us in any capacity,” Deravis added. “No one has ever reached out to us to even apologize to us on behalf of this officer that they hired.”
According to 11Alive, the family is now asking to sit down with the mayor and have the lawsuit against the city – which is on hold because of the delays with the criminal case, and, now, COVID-19 – settled. They are also asking for the mayor to establish what they’re calling a reconciliation commission to address past and unresolved cases of injustice involving APD officers.
The mayor responded to the family’s request, noting that her “thoughts and prayers” are with the Rogers as they wait and hope for justice to happen.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms released the following statement:
“The fact that this incident occurred in 2016, before I was Mayor, yet remains unresolved four years later, only highlights the need for urgent action and reform. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Caine Rogers and every other family awaiting justice.”
Below is the raw dashcam footage. Notice how Rogers drove around the officer just like anyone would do, thinking cops were stopping someone else.